The public’s confidence in the future of Hong Kong has dropped to a new post-2003 low, according to the latest results from the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP) released on Tuesday.
The poll, conducted September 9-17, found that 44 per cent of 1,006 respondents said they had confidence in the territory’s future. 49.7 per cent said they did not.
At -5.7 per cent, the net confidence figure was the lowest since plummeting -15.2 per cent in April 2003.
In the 18-29 age group, 73 per cent of respondents said they distrusted the Central Government and 67 per cent said they have no confidence in the “one country, two systems” principle.
HKUPOP Director Robert Chung Ting-yiu said that “people’s net confidence in the future of Hong Kong, China and ‘one country, two systems’ have all plunged, by 12 to 22 percentage points, after their rebounds three months ago…and people’s confidence in Hong Kong’s future has even dropped to record low since April 2003.”
“Further analysis shows the younger the respondent, the more one distrusts the central government and the less confident [they are] in ‘one country, two systems,’” he added.
Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok told Apple Daily that the poll showed the public disliked the comments made by China Liaison Office Director Zhang Xiaoming that the Chief Executive has “overriding powers” over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
Chan said that the pro-democracy Occupy protests last year showed Hong Kong people’s strong will to fight for more autonomy, and that if Beijing does not adopt a lighter touch in handling contradictions between the two systems it will only lead to more protests.
If Beijing continues its hard line approach, Chan says he is concerned that “one country, two systems” could “end prematurely.”
Federation of Trade Unions legislator Wong Kwok-kin told the newspaper that Zhang’s comments were only one of many reasons behind people’s loss of confidence.
However, he added that public confidence could be rebuilt over time if the government strictly adheres to the Basic Law.
In 2003, the SARS pandemic hit Hong Kong, infecting 1,755 and killing 299.
After the epidemic, half a million demonstrators took to the streets to march against the legislation of Article 23, a national security law widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms. The bill was later withdrawn.